By Amanda Krehling
It was a historic weekend at the Atomic Footer’s homestead in Middletown, Pennsylvania with Friday marking the permanent shutdown of Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant known for the infamous meltdown in 1979.
While much of the community will think of this date as the last weekend to see the iconic “cloud makers” in production, the barefoot community will remember it for the inaugural Nuclear Showdown event and first tournament other than Regionals to be held in the Eastern Region in more than eight years.
Skiers from across the East and spanning all the way to Tasmania, Australia, arrived by car, boat, and sea plane to ski in the shadows of the cooling towers on the Susquehanna River. The Nuclear Showdown, a record-capable and grassroots event, included both new and familiar faces to the sport. Complete Results HERE
Men’s A competitors put on quite a show with Don Stoppe breaking out the old school teeth-hold and neck-hold tricks and Rich Kaufman and Mark McCauley both posting slalom scores that qualified them for the 2020 Worlds.
The international division was swept by Bruce Wilson, who will return to Australia with a new PB in Tricks. Michele Comp represented the lady footers by putting up an honorable showing in her first barefoot competition; she not only successfully completed her flying dock start but also got a PB in slalom. Other brand new faces were Josh Matincheck, Brian Krehling, and Kyle Price, who all competed for the first time this weekend.
Men’s C housed the biggest group of skiers in the Nuclear Showdown, with Peter Bostock of the Port Indian Ski Club taking gold. Other competitors included John Garrity, Sam Dubs, Derek Krehling, Eric Rankin, Nate Comp, and Matt Morris.
There was a family showdown between the Jersey boys, with Kevin Garrity of Boy’s A surpassing his dad’s PB with a slalom score of 4.50. Since Harrisburg International Airport is right next to the tournament site, there was speculation as to whether or not John Garrity was going to hop a flight to Florida to start training for next season!
Speaking of Florida, a big shout out is owed to the World Barefoot Center, as well as BlueTek IT Solutions, Atomic Pucker, and the Atomic Footers Ski Club for the swag bag donations. This event would not have been possible without the support of the Port Indian Ski Club, our boat drivers Dave Miller and Mark McCauley, or the help of the many volunteers affiliated with the Atomic Footers Ski Club and the barefoot community.
A special shout out to Rich Kaufman and Tina McCauley who remain committed to advancing the sport and arrived a day early to hold a Judges and Scorers Clinic Friday evening.
This weekend may have signified the end of an era at Three Mile Island, but it marked the beginning of a new barefoot tradition in the Eastern Region. And while no three-eyed catfish were spotted on the Susquehanna River, it’s possible a few Footers went home glowing a little greener after this weekend!